With TM’s product range as broad as it is, I haven’t had a chance to sample them all. From what I have tested to date, TM offers an acceptable broadband service with sub-par mobile product performance. Their signature Unifi broadband product is improving over time (and under pressure from MCMC). Customer service remains sub-par.
TM Unifi Review: 6 Pros and 4 Cons of Signing up with TM Unifi!
January 23, 2020
By the end of 2018, Malaysia saw a significant rise in broadband speed rankings and was listed as one of the top five countries in the world with the largest jumps in fixed line broadband. As a whole, broadband speeds in the country rose to an average of 35.83 Mbps, an increase of almost 90%.
National broadband provider Telekom Malaysia (TM), which had virtual monopoly over the industry for decades was under increased pressure from strong competitors on both the residential and business fronts.
In addition to that, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had introduced Mandatory Standard Access Pricing (MSAP) which was to be fully implemented by mid-2018. The MSAP was intended to bring prices of broadband down. The resulting agreement with telecommunication providers in the country saw prices drastically reduced when taking into consideration much higher speed packages.
Since it had launched its Unifi plans in 2010, TM had rested on its laurels, offering subscribers speeds ranging from 10 to 100 Mbps. Following MSAP, the telco introduced new packages (Unifi Turbo) which were to upgrade speeds to as fast as 800Mbps for similar prices.
Given this background and the increasingly strong competitor landscape, is TM still a good option for Malaysian broadband subscribers?
6 Reasons Why TM Unifi Is A Good Broadband In Malaysia
1. Widest Coverage
* Highlighted areas in yellow and green show TM coverage by at least one broadband product
As the national telecommunications service provider, TM has been around the longest. Because of this it has both the manpower and infrastructure necessary to facilitate nationwide coverage for broadband – during the days when copper wire was still in play.
It was also the first to deploy fibre broadband infrastructure on a commercially viable scale. This endeavour took time and lots of capital, both of which TM also had a lead in. Because of its wide product range, TM now boasts the largest broadband coverage in the entire country.
2. Strong Product Range
With its roots dating back to the days of copper wire dialup and ADSL, TM has extended its product range to cover almost every spectrum of commercial telecommunications. It also has ancillary products aimed at value added services such as Unifi TV, Video on Demand (VOD) and VOIP services.
- Residential broadband TM has moved on from the days of copper wire and is today offering fibre through its heavily promoted Unifi plans. Unifi was started as part of a high-speed broadband (HSBB) agreement between TM and the government in 2008.
Officially launched to the public in 2010, it offered three main plans with download speeds of between 5Mbps to 30Mbps. Since then the plans have been upgraded and today, TM is working along two fronts to further increase speeds and bring down overall prices.
The first front is the update of existing Unifi plans from the original speeds offered to what it calls as ‘Unifi Turbo’. This would bring existing speeds up to 100Mbps from 10Mbps, 300Mbps from 30Mbps and 800Mbps from 100Mbps plans. As of end of January 2019, TM has announced that over 90% of eligible customers have gotten the upgrade.
The second front has been a revamp of plans offered to new subscribers. Today, TM offers residential users plans which range from between 30Mbps to 300Mbps at prices between RM79 to RM199 per month.
Actual speeds vary depending on location but having used Unifi for a number of years, but personally I was able to get full advertised speeds at all times barring line outages.
* On my 50Mbps Unifi line I was able to consistently get full download speeds at almost all times.
- Business broadbandTM seems to have focused less on business broadband plans as these have gotten the least amount of attention or updates. The plans vary a lot in terms of both speed and price from residential plans.
Unifi Biz plans range in speeds from 10Mbps to 100Mbps at prices of between RM179 to RM349 per month. Although costing more for less speed, business owners have not much choice as TM will not allow residential broadband plans to be taken up at business locations.
I have worked at locations using Unifi Biz plans before and have found the plans are generally stable and fast. The biggest issue stems from the limited bandwidth offered by the plans which make line-sharing among co-workers difficult at heavy load demand times.
- Mobile broadbandUnifi @ mobile is both the mobile voice as well as data arm of TM services. It is a contract-free prepaid service which allows customers the same services as most mobile telcos like Maxis do. The biggest advantage of Unifi @ mobile is that there is no expiration on credit for your accounts and if you’re a frugal user, a little goes a long way.
When it was first introduced, I signed up for a few of their promotion-period SIM cards which came with 10GB of data free and even now, after many months I am still using one on my tablet, not having paid to top-up the data at all.
The biggest issue I see with Unifi @ mobile is very poor general coverage, even in urban areas. At times I am not able to get service even in some shopping centres, unlike my mobile lines with Digi and Maxis.
- IPTV serviceTM offers some plans integrated with an IPTV service called Unifi TV. The cost of this is actually factored in to the overall package cost, which might be one reason why TM Unifi residential plans have a higher face value than some competing broadband providers.
The service offers a number of free channels via their set-top boxes but also make available additional on-demand videos much like pay-per-view TV. This business model has since changed and instead of set-top boxes, viewers get streaming IDs for on-the-go usage even on mobile.
- VOIPAll Unifi plans also come packaged with VOIP features and free talk time (depending on plan selected). This makes Unifi a complete telecommunications and entertainment provider.
- Other services
Strangely enough, TM also has a wide range of other services such as their little-known web hosting packages. These offer web space for as low as RM10 a month, which is on par with some of what you can get from dedicated web hosting service providers such as Hostinger. Their advantage for Malaysian companies or users though is that their data centres will be based in Malaysia.
These services are not very well known since TM tends to focus marketing efforts primarily on their broadband.
3. Speeds Of Up To 800Mbps
Current Unifi packages offer speeds ranging between 30Mbps to 300Mbps. 800Mbps speed are only available to pre-existing customers who were subscribed to original Unifi packages. These standard package speeds are far lower than what some competitors offer.
For those who take up any of their high-speed packages I do have to add in a word of caution. Many people mistake their wireless speed as their Internet speed, but this is incorrect. Telco Internet speed refers to speeds which can be attained by any means.
Most wireless modems available are limited in speed and the stock units provided by telcos are usually unable to offer full speed capabilities via wireless. For example, if you get a D-Link DIR-850L wireless router, you will most definitely not be able to get 800Mbps turbo speeds via WiFi.
You should also note that speed depends on your own equipment’s wireless receiver. Some laptops come with poor WiFI adapters, such as the Acer Aspire 5 for example. This is another factor that will limit your speed potential. TO test your actual Internet speed, always use a LAN connection.
4. No Real Bandwidth Cap
Although TM did waffle a bit on bandwidth quotas when Unifi was first introduced, it has since openly stated that there will be no data cap on any of its plans. This is a great bonus value for subscribers, especially those who use their broadband for all purposes, from streaming movies to downloads and other functions.
5. Networking Equipment Provided
TM as well as authorized dealers offer two key pieces of equipment free for each sign-up. This includes a BTU unit (necessary for the fibre connection) as well as a wireless router (model changes from time to time). Although the wireless modem is very basic, it does eliminate the need for additional cost when setting up wireless broadband for the entire household or office.
6. Lots Of Other Freebies
Freebies included in 24-month subscription:
- Unlimited usage per month with FUP
- Dynamic IP
- FREE Unifi modem (BTU) with lifetime warranty
- FREE Unifi wireless router
- FREE IPTV set-top box (STB) for HyppTV channels
- FREE cordless DECT phone
- Waive RM200 installation fee
* Many contractors and even TM waives installation fees and include more free stuff on new subscriptions.
There is a base installation cost of RM200 for each Unifi package, which includes pulling the line from their service box to your residence. There is a limited distance of line allowed with this package and additional wiring is a chargeable extra.
However, many contractors and even TM itself often waives these fees to increase uptake for their plans. In fact, some contractors offer additional freebies with subscriptions, such as free shopping vouchers and the like.
Things We Were Disappointed With TM Unifi
1. Poor Customer Service
Having been a customer of both Unifi residential and business for many years in the past, I have never failed to be disappointed with their customer service. It is often extremely difficult to call in to their help lines and customers are often kept waiting for extended periods.
If you’re lucky enough to get through and have the most basic knowledge about networking, you will soon realise than many of their first-line support staff have practically zero technical skills. Their job primarily consists of guiding you through a series of pre-established steps – strictly without deviation.
Ultimately, almost all calls will end with them giving you a service number and them sending your problem on to technical staff.
2. 24-Month Contract
All new subscribers to Unifi are tied in with a 24-month contract. If you decide to terminate your line for any reason, there is a whopping RM500 termination fee to be paid. If you want to downgrade your plan for any reason, there is another RM200 fee which you need to pay.
Finally, if you are moving home and wish to transfer your Unifi line to an alternate new location, there is another RM300 relocation fee which you need to consider -= PLUS additional cost for necessary wiring. TM does often waive this relocation fee though, so make sure you ask if you’re intending to move your line!
3. Equipment Is On Loan
Earlier I had mentioned that there are lots of freebies that come along with Unifi subscriptions, but make sure you take note that the BTU (the white box) that Unifi provides belongs to them and is only on loan to you. If you damage the BTU in any way (coffee spill, dog chewed it, etc) you will be charged for a replacement unit.
The good part is that for the wireless modem that is provided, you get warranty coverage even though it’s a freebie. So, if your modem gets fried or otherwise dies and TM decided that you were not in the wrong, they will replace it for you FOC. Often the part that gets damaged is the adapter, so in that case they will only replace the power adapter, not the entire modem.
Typically, TM provides (depending on package);
- BTU unit (this is the box that translates the fibre signal into one readable by your router)
- Wireless router (model varies from time to time)
- Set-top-box for IPTV
- DECT cordless phone
4. Troublesome To Terminate Service
To be honest, this is one part which I myself would not believe if I had not gone through it. To terminate your Unifi package, you need to go through a somewhat strange process.
First, you must officially inform TM of your decision to terminate. Following that, you must wait for exactly 30 days and then between the 31st to 35th day, personally go down to a TM Point to complete the termination. You will also need to bring along the BTU with you and return it to them (since it is on loan).
Personally, I have no idea why they take it back since I have seen them basically throw it onto a junk pile when you bring it back to them.
TM also gained a terrible reputation blow when its difficult termination procedures famously resulted in an 88 year-old wheelchair-bound man being given the run-around in his efforts to terminate his account with them.
Customer Comments On TM Unifi
Officially, TM has been recognized to have the highest number of customer complaints compared to other telcos in the country. This is based on average complaints per 1,000 customers, so its proportionate and not to be mistaken with its size as the largest telco in the country (TM has more than 85% market share in Malaysia).
Among top complaints, customers were most dissatisfied with pricing, followed by coverage area, service disruption, billing disputes as well as service delivery. Indeed, the telco has even been reprimanded by MCMC for its lacklustre service quality.
Some customer comments:
“I opened a ticket asking Unifi technician to come to replace a modem for me due to modem malfunction, but it’s been 3 days and I didn’t receive any call from the technician. Unifi customer services is not very helpful since they just keep asking me to wait for the technician to call me.”
“I have reported a case to TM of faulty service of streamyx internet lost connection seem every month twice, but lately getting worse and delay it’s influence for my business.”
“I’ve been having service disruption since the 10th of Feb 2018 until now in Jalan Depot Peluru. There is no sign of any phone nor DSL signal coming in from the line. The service in my area keep going down every few months and every time it requires them no less than 2 weeks to repair it.”
“Just done new installation yesterday evening for my new home. Less than 12 hours it cannot connect internet and phone not working too.”
The above comments were noted on Lowyat.net and National Consumer Complaint Forum, although many other sources can be found with users voicing dissatisfaction with TM service and products.
TM Unifi Plans and Pricing
When you consider that TM packages generally come with VOIP and IPTV features you will find that overall, despite offering generally lower broadband speeds than some competitors they have a good package deal.
RM159 for 100Mbps broadband plus IPTV service and 600 minutes of free voice calls is quite acceptable. If you feel that there is no need for the extra frills, your broadband price for that speed drops down to RM129.
For those who are on the original Unifi plans and are still waiting for your Turbo upgrade, do note that Unifi is not planning to upgrade ALL subscribers, but only those they deem qualified. I am not certain how they choose who to upgrade, but I did call and found out I was not eligible for it.
If you are in the same situation, I recommend you consider either (a) switching to one of their newer packages or (b) change broadband providers.
Free Calls (up to)
Unifi Biz users generally get a very poor deal. Their prices are high and speeds low (compared to their residential packages). Unfortunately, TM will not allow businesses to register for residential broadband packages at business locations.
3. Unifi Mobile
* Unifi @ Mobile prepaid voice packages.
* Unifi @ Mobile prepaid data packages.
Unifi @ mobile has set charges for packages of both data and voice. Charges are reasonable and I think it’s a good idea that TM has separated voice and data plans. This would make more sense for many users who use either more than the other.
For example, I only use the data portion of my Unifi @ mobile line and so if I were to do a reload, I only reload for the part I need to use – data.
Unifi Mobile™ 39
Unifi Mobile™ 59
Free Calls (up to)
Unifi @ mobile has five postpaid plans available ranging from RM19 per month to the top end at RM99 per month. This is quite comprehensive, and their deals are reasonable as well. The only major issue I have with them is their very limited coverage area.
If you really need a reliable mobile line I suggest you look more towards one of the dedicated mobile telco providers rather than relying on a fixed-line expert such as TM.
Verdict: Is it advisable getting TM Unifi?
Within the context of Malaysia, I would say that signing up with TM (specifically for Unifi) is more a matter of having not many other choices. Although it has competitors that are increasingly strong in urban areas, TM maintains its lead in terms of sheer coverage alone. Many users in rural areas would have limited other opportunities.
Unifi has improved in both terms of speed and price over the past few months and I am certain that given the immense pressure TM is under from MCMC they will continue to improve. If you need broadband anywhere in Malaysia, TM would generally be the first place to look at.
- ✓ Wide range of products
- ✓ Speeds up to 800Mbps
- ✓ No data cap
- ✓ Free equipment provided
- • Residential broadband
- • Business broadband
- • Mobile broadband